The Maryland Film Festival will take a hiatus next year as organizers rethink the event’s business model amid a changing landscape for the film industry.
The organization’s board of directors announced Monday that it plans to bring back the film festival in 2024, in time for the festival’s 25th anniversary.
Board Chair Scot Spencer said in a statement that the postponement was based on a desire to “chart a sustainable plan to continue bringing films, filmmakers and audiences together in Baltimore.”
“We decided it was prudent to take a step back and spend the next several months crafting a new business model,” Spencer said. “Our goal is to ensure that the organization remains a vital community asset for years to come. And we are confident that we will mount a wonderful 25th Maryland Film Festival in 2024.”
Founded in 1999, the Maryland Film Festival brings together independent filmmakers and movie buffs for screenings of dozens of feature-length and short films every spring. In recent years, the event has been based out of the historic Parkway Theatre in Station North, which is owned and operated by the film festival.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters in early 2020, the festival forged ahead with an all-virtual model. Last year’s film festival brought a mix of in-person and virtual events, while the 2022 fest was a return to form, with all screenings and talks held in person.
But organizers said they are still facing “dramatic changes in moviegoing” wrought by the pandemic. A recent survey by Statista found that 41% of respondents said they rarely go to the movies, while just 8% reported going to see a movie “often.”
“As with all theaters, we have seen major changes in moviegoing amid the enduring pandemic, which has led to smaller audiences and less revenues,” Sandra Gibson, the Maryland Film Festival’s executive director, said in a statement. “We recognize the importance of developing a revised business model and plan that reflects changes in moviegoing and supports the organization’s sustainability over the long term.”
Festival organizers said they plan to develop a new business model in the coming months with the help of an organizational consultant.